Letter: There are ways we can all help children with their emotional development

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May is Mental Health Month. It’s a good time to remind people about the importance of the healthy social and emotional development of our youngest children.

In Minnesota and across the U.S., there is a rising number of young children who have mental health issues. Their needs are becoming apparent through challenging behaviors in school and child care situations.

Mental Health America ( suggests these ways for all of us—parent, care provider, family member, teacher, neighbor—to help children with their social and emotional development:

  • Communicate. Spend time every day listening and talking to your child about what is happening in their lives. Share emotions and feelings with your children.
  • Give children unconditional love. Children need to know that your love does not depend on their accomplishments.
  • Nurture children's confidence and self-esteem. Praise and encourage your children and set realistic goals that test their abilities. Accept mistakes and failures as a part of life.
  • Encourage children to play. Playtime is important to children’s emotional development. Play helps children be creative, develop problem-solving skills and self-control, and learn how to get along with others.
  • Give appropriate guidance and discipline when necessary. Be firm, but kind and realistic with your expectations. The goal is not to control the child, but to help him or her learn self-control.
  • Provide a safe and secure environment. Fear can be very real for a child. When they are frightened, try to find out why. Respond by being loving, patient and reassuring, not critical.

The Clay County Early Childhood Initiative is committed to helping young children in your community grow, learn and thrive.
The ECI is a group of local early childhood professionals, government agencies, businesses and community partners who meet regularly to support families in Clay County with more awareness of and access to early childhood opportunities.

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